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So you’ve decided to travel the land down under?! Although you don’t have loads of savings to splurge so you’re after advice for travelling Australia on a budget. You’ve come to the right place!
As an Aussie who has lived here my whole life, I gathered loads of great tips for exploring the country without splashing out tonnes of cash.
From where to stay to how to get around and anything in between, below are my 20 tips for travelling Australia on a budget.
20 Tips for Travelling Australia on a Budget
- 1. Create a budget
- 2. Be flexible
- 3. Book cheap flights
- 4. Save, save save!
- 5. Don’t over pack
- 6. Pick your accommodation wisely
- 7. Pick up extra work
- 8. Combine accommodation with transport
- 9. Go camping
- 10. Take a road trip
- 11. Take a tour
- 12. Make use of the Free Wi-fi
- 13. No tipping
- 14. Skip buying coffee out
- 15. Buy drinks at a bottle shop
- 16. Travel Insurance
- 17. Explore museums and art galleries
- 18. Make food
- 19. Travel card / no fee ATM card
- 20. Spend lots of time in nature
1. Create a budget
The first and most obvious step for travelling Australia on a budget is to create a realistic budget.
Budgets can easily be created in excel, they don’t need to look fancy they just need to track your expenses and spending habits.
There are loads of free templates online, a great starting tool is the budget planner tool created by the Australian government. But let me know in the comments if you would like me to share my personal template.
By reviewing your spending you can determine an achievable weekly or monthly saving goal. Then, simply set up auto payments to your savings accounts to hold you accountable for your goal.
2. Be flexible
Be flexible with your travel dates as adjusting your days and times of travel can sometimes dramatically alter the prices.
The more flexible you are the more money you can save. And the great thing about Australia is that you can enjoy warm beach weather for most of the year, particularly if you head to Queensland. Winters in Australia are pretty mild.
Avoid peak time including public holidays, school holidays and the summer time (December – February)
3. Book cheap flights
I always use Skyscanner to book my flights and shop for the best rates.
Because I can see prices and promotions from over 1200 travel companies in one spot.
Plus it’s easy to filter for my airlines of choice so I can collect or use points.
4. Save, save save!
Do whatever you can to save as much money as possible before you head off.
Here are my 5 ultimate ways to save money for travelling fast.
5. Don’t over pack
It’s time to pack now! When packing your luggage and carry on make sure to check the baggage allowance of ALL airlines you are travelling with. The last thing you want is a hefty fee when you get to the airport as your baggage is overweight.
For peace of mind, I also like to weigh my bag. You can get a small baggage scale from Amazon, Target or other department stores for cheap and if you’re a big traveller it will always come in handy.
Try and pack as much as you can so you aren’t tempted to go shopping on your trip and won’t need to purchase necessities when you arrive.
Check out my 9 Must Know Tips for Travel Packing for more hints on packing!
6. Pick your accommodation wisely
One of the most costly expenses when travelling to Australia on a budget is accommodation. Choosing your accommodation wisely can save you hundreds of dollars.
As with other countries around the world, the cost of hotels and even hostels is rising rapidly.
The following options, although not the most glamorous, are your best bets for travelling Australia on a budget.
Unfortunately, hostels in Australia are no match for Thailand or Vietnam, particularly during the summertime.
Hostel dorm beds in Australia can range anywhere from $40-65 AUD per night depending on where you are staying and what time of year it is.
Although I can’t speak from personal experience there are a range of fellow solo female travellers who I’ve heard have had both great and not-so-great experiences.
Check out couchsurfing.com to see if there are any suitable options for you, even if it’s just a night here and there.
Skip paying for accommodation together by volunteering/working in exchange for a bed.
Sites such as workaway and worldpackers connect hosts looking for services such as childcare, language tutoring, gardening, cleaning, charity work, art projects, animal care, farm stay help and more.
This is a better option for those on longer stays wanting to really experience the local way of living.
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7. Pick up extra work
To create more wiggle room in your budget, pick up a little extra work when you’re travelling Australia on a budget.
My favourite way to make extra income while travelling is online, as it gives me the flexibility to work wherever and whenever.
For me, it’s working on this blog, which is not a quick way to make money so if you’re in a pinch I would explore options such as freelancing, virtual assistant roles, surveys, digital products, affiliate marketing or dropshipping.
Alternatively, there are plenty of backpacker jobs you can pick up as you go including but not limited to: hospitality, farm work, tour guiding, tutoring, babysitting and more.
I have detailed How to work and travel in Australia, which I recommend you check out!
8. Combine accommodation with transport
This next tip for travelling Australia on a budget is to combine accommodation with transport.
Get a safe night’s sleep and maximise your time in a destination by opting for red-eye flights, sleeper trains or night buses. Plus, overnight transport often has cheaper fares.
WIN, WIN, WIN!
Book your budget overnight flights with Skyscanner for the best fares guaranteed!
Another common way to get around Australia for cheap is to rent or purchase a van. With some DIY you can transform the van into a comfortable place to sleep and make simple meals.
9. Go camping
Can an Aussie adventure really be complete without camping?
It’s not for everyone but why not give it a go for a couple of nights by the beach to not only save cash but to get amongst Aussie nature?
Just be wary of snakes, spiders and other native animals you are sharing the campsite with…
10. Take a road trip
A solo road trip is a great way to see lots of places around Australia in a short amount of time. It gives you the ultimate flexibility to plan your ideal adventure. Leave all the logistical nightmares and time-wasting involved with arranging public transport behind.
It is a great way for travelling Australia on a budget as you can skip splurging on plane tickets.
Check out my 20 tips to road trip solo!
11. Take a tour
Often times taking a bus tour will not only save you the stress of planning your trip but will also make budgeting a lot simpler.
Tour companies such as Topdeck and Contiki are a great way to meet other travellers, see the best sights in a short amount of time and have meals and accommodation arranged for you.
Tours will also give you access to exclusively negotiated prices on hostels and attractions, excellent value for your buck.
12. Make use of the Free Wi-fi
Australia’s Wi-fi infrastructure has come a long way. Nowadays you can find free Wi-fi in most major cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, hotels and major tourist hubs.
Due to security concerns and limiting Wi-Fi to customers only, it is often password protected. You will need to ask the server for the password and purchase something small like a sandwich or drink.
Using free Wi-Fi will save you from being charged international roaming charges and having to purchase a large amount of data.
For safety reasons, I do recommend you purchase a sim card, especially if you are travelling in the outback or through more remote areas.
I recommend you check out OneSimCard Expedition International 3-in-one Travel SIM Card as you can use in 200+ countries and can pay as you go.
13. No tipping
You’ll be pleased to know that in Australia the price you see on the menu is the price you pay.
Tipping is not common and not expected of you.
Here in Australia, hospitality workers are paid a higher wage thanks to high minimum wage standards set by the government.
14. Skip buying coffee out
When you’re jet-lagged, hungover or just plain exhausted, hot barista-made coffee is sometimes all you can think about. And yes sometimes they are justified… 3 am flights I think it’s more of a necessity than a nicety!
Not to mention the coffee in Australia is some of the tastiest brews in the world.
But buying coffee out is another silent assassin that will add up fast, especially in this economy.
Now I’m not saying don’t drink coffee, cause that would be torture. The coffee culture in Australia is an experience in itself.
I would just try to limit buying coffee out but substituting instant coffee.
Pack a small number of instant coffee sachets that only require hot water to get you through your morning.
15. Buy drinks at a bottle shop
One of my top tips for travelling Australia on a budget is to buy your drinks at a bottle shop.
By bottle shop that’s what we call a liquor store here. Also, note that Australia does not sell alcohol in supermarkets.
These days in Australia buying drinks at a bar, club or restaurant is very expensive.
So if you’re after a fun night out in Australia’s nightclub scene, have a few pre-drinks before you head out. A $12 bottle of wine is a better value than a $12 glass!
And make sure to bring your ID anywhere you go! Australia is very strict on checking ID of anyone who looks under 25!
16. Travel Insurance
Now you may be thinking, isn’t travel insurance an extra cost?
Travel insurance is a small price to pay that can save you thousands of dollars if you fall ill, get injured, lose your luggage, get delayed at the airport are in an accident.
It’s a no-brainer!
I always recommend World Nomads for affordable travel insurance options perfect for world travellers needing flexible options and adventure cover.
17. Explore museums and art galleries
The next tip for travelling Australia on a budget is to visit museums and art galleries.
Here in Australia general admission is often free!
Learn how about Australian history and culture, plus it’s a great way to escape the heat for a couple of hours.
18. Make food
Skip dining out and instead head to the supermarket to grab some fixings for cereal, a sandwich and spaghetti.
Eating out adds up fast so try and limit it to only a few restaurants you are dying to try.
Supermarkets and bakeries will be your best friend when travelling Australia on a budget...
Grab a loaf of bread, some spreads, cold meats and salad to make toast and sandwiches. I love bakery stops to grab a pie, pastry or sandwich when on the go.
Other staples that are great for sticking to your budget include simple pasta dishes, microwave meals and noodles.
19. Travel card / no fee ATM card
Planning to use your local bank card when travelling to Australia? Think again.
International transaction fees of 3%, flat $3 or worse add up really fast.
I also wouldn’t recommend taking out loads of cash either because if you lose it or your baggage is stolen it’s all gone.
So where does this leave us?
Travel cards and no fee ATM cards!
One of if not the best travel cards on the market is Wise.
If you go for a travel card like Wise you will save 85% compared to using your everyday debit card.
Wise has over 50 currencies and can be used in hundreds of countries, sparing you the hassle of juggling multiple cards. And you can withdraw up to $350 AUD per month with no fees! And you can add it to your Apple wallet for easy payment from your iPhone or Apple watch.
Another great all-rounder card to check out is Travelx. Travelex has no Eftpos fees, ATM fees, or currency conversion fees. And you can order it online and have it delivered to you pronto!
And lastly, if you prefer to stick with your trusted bank, they likely will have the option to reduce your international transaction fees so reach out or do your research.
20. Spend lots of time in nature
Australia is home to world-class beaches, gorgeous lakes, mountains, rainforests, and waterfalls you name it.
When travelling Australia on a budget, spending most of your time in nature will help you cut the costs down.
Trade walking around the shopping centre for a scenic hike and dining at a fancy restaurant for fish and chips on the beach.
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